The soft robot will access the tightest of areas

Researchers at Stanford University came up with a clever and practical design for a robot, which can be used for almost everything. The mechanism behind this soft robot allows it to grow as it moves in an environment. This means that it’s the best tool to use during a rescue operation, or to fit a cable in a tight space no other tool can reach.

  • The soft robot is made of a resistant material which doesn’t tear easily.
  • It can access the tightest areas, and reaches faraway distances by growing.
  • The device has many uses, ranging from rescue operations to introducing cables in hard-to-reach areas.

For the design of the robot, researchers took inspiration from nature. This device works just like a vine, and uses either compressed air or liquid to expand in length and reach places situated at faraway distances. The robot is shaped like a tube, and is made up of a soft material. When it starts expanding, the tube is turned inside out.

Its head is fitted with a camera, which allows the one which operates it to choose a direction where it should expand. The operator can direct it towards tight places inaccessible to other robots or to humans. Also, not only the soft robot gets into these spaces, but it can also drag a cable with it, making it the perfect tool in emergencies.

Scientists presented other situations when the soft robot is of help. It can transport cables into hard-to-fit areas, such as under a floor, or work as a temporary antenna. The tube is made of a strong fabric, resistant to tearing, so it can access any kind of areas without breaking. Also, it can lift objects into the air or allow things to pass through its tunnel.

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Now, researchers want to perform more testing by using more liquids to expand the tube. Also, they want to explore the possibility of using more materials for the body of the robot. All the results of the experiment have been published in the journal Science Robotics.


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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